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|Subject: Re: Humor...||Date: 12/15/2012 12:16 AM|
|Author: khalou||Number: 414800 of 442176|
Having characterized laughter's social context, Provine next analyzes acoustical properties of recorded laughter. He finds that "laugh notes" consist of vowel-like syllables of a harmonic with low fundamental frequency and weak sigh-like intervening signals, usually with a homogenous structure and a progressive decrescendo. Evolutionarily, higher primates have a similar vocalization to baby chimps at play. However, the quality of primates' laugh-like sounds is limited by respiratory-vocal coupling, since they are only able to produce 1 vocal syllable per inhalation-exhalation cycle (unlike humans, who can sustain multiple syllables per respiratory cycle).
Similarly, quadrupedal animals require 1 stride per respiratory cycle, while humans may sustain multiple steps per breath. Provine postulates that this human edge in breath control was critical evolutionarily, becoming instrumental in the development of speech by liberating our complex neuromuscular speech apparatus from the more mundane chores of breathing and walking. Further evolutionary theorizing follows in analyses of tickling and laughter's contagion. From student and animal experiments, Provine postulates a role for tickle-induced laughter in the development of social bonds and distinction of nonself stimuli to enable subsequent bodily defense. Laughter's contagiousness, borne out in diverse examples such as St. Vitus' Dance, Beatlemania, "holy laughter" in charismatic Christian sects, and a Tanzanian laughter epidemic, is an evolutionary Achilles' heel, exploitable by corporate America in media laugh tracks and Tickle Me Elmo.
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